6 posts tagged war on drugs
President Obama recently announced an aid package of more than $130 million to fight the narcotraficantes (narco-traffickers) in Central and Latin America. The infusion of money was announced at the Summit of the Americas in April in Cartagena, Colombia, to head off criticism of the “war on drugs”—and spreading calls to declare it a failure and end it.
The White House wants the world to believe drug prohibition works, and to forget the murderous legacy of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Central and Latin America.
The CIA and the DEA have been directly involved in drug trafficking in the region for decades. They’ve trained, armed and funded death squads and right-wing paramilitary groups that share control of the lucrative drug trade. Corrupt officials at the highest levels of government and sections of the business class also profit enormously from the illicit drug trade.
Latin America has borne the brunt of the U.S.-led war on drugs that has turned several countries into virtual war zones full of massacres and mayhem. Drug cartels operate with near impunity and assassinate judges, journalists, mayors, police and anyone unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
No country wants to become the “next Mexico,” where more than 60,000 people have died in gruesome, drug-fueled violence. Over 250,000 have been internally displaced, and kidnapping for ransom is rife. In many parts of Mexico, drug cartels now battle openly with government forces for control of cities and towns.
The effects on the Mexican economy, in particular tourism, have been devastating. In Acapulco last year, 15 decapitated bodies were found on a walkway to a popular beach. Another 12 victims, including two police officers, were killed in the city on the same day. The drug war has turned Mexico into vast killing fields and economic wastelands.
The Obama administration released its 2012 National Drug Control Strategy and accompanying 2013 drug budget Tuesday, and while the administration touted it as a “drug policy for the 21st Century,” it is very much of a piece with anti-drug policies going back to the days of Richard Nixon.
The federal government will spend more than $25 billion on drug control under the proposed budget, nearly half a billion dollars more than this year. And despite the administration’s talk about emphasizing prevention and treatment over war on drugs spending, it retains the same roughly 60:40 ratio of law enforcement and interdiction spending over treatment and prevention training that [it] has obtained in federal drug budgets going back years. In fact, the 58.8% of the proposed budget that would go to drug war programs is exactly the same percentage as George Bush’s 2008 budget and even higher than the 56.8% in Bush’s 2005 budget.
Neill Franklin, Executive Director of L.E.A.P., speaks truth to power on the absurdity of America’s Drug War, through the lens of a recent raid on a California medical marijuana manufacturing and education facility:
As I sit and watch video after video of Monday’s senseless federal raid of Oaksterdam University and other medical cannabis-related facilities managed by Richard Lee, the orchestrator of California’s historic Proposition 19, a few serious concerns come to mind.
Let’s take a look at the results of this “successful” raid upon those who care for the sick. The first indicator of success is one of public safety. That’s why we have such enforcement activity in the first place — law enforcement and public safety should be synonymous. Will the raid make the community safer? Will there be fewer homicides? Oh, wait, there never were any on-site at Oaksterdam. They occur blocks away while we “the police” do our thing here. Will there now be fewer robberies in the neighborhood? Just the opposite: violent crime has been down in the area since Oaksterdam became operational. Well, maybe there will now be less “pot” being sold to kids in the neighborhood? Actually, expect that to increase now that any marijuana being sold in the area, post-raid, will be done by drug dealers on the corners who don’t check ID. Oh yes, one more observation: Patients will no longer have access to safe medicine in safe environments. They will be forced to acquire cannabis from the dangerous illegal marketplace, lining the pockets of criminal organizations, gangs and thugs instead of universally supported local businesses that pay taxes and create jobs.
Which will, in turn, perpetuate violence in Mexico as drug cartels continue to jockey for positions in the U.S. market. upwards of 47,000 Mexican citizens have died since Felipé Calderon, with the full approval and material support of the United States, mobilized the Mexican military against the drug cartels in 2006. Forcing medical marijuana patients to turn to the black market only intensifies the economic incentives that make drug trafficking worth the risk for the cartels.
Yet another example of our absolutely destructive drug policy destroying more lives than it could ever prospectively save.
What is plain as day is the fact that the demand for cannabis sativa is responsible for more deaths in Mexico than anything else—and after half a decade of unrelenting bloodshed—the body count just recently surpassed the 50,000 mark. Personally, that’s a bitter pill to swallow considering 50 percent of Americans now believe marijuana should be outright legalized, according to Gallup’s most recent poll from October 2011.
For over forty years, ganja has been the steadiest and most reliable source of income for Mexican traffickers, and it’s still the primary substance that lures most wannabe sicarios into the drug running game. Most green-horn dope peddlers don’t get their start by transporting tons of coke at a time; rather, they have to earn their stripes by moving up the marijuana food chain—and many don’t make it past that point in their careers to begin with.
Most followers tuned in to the legalization debate are already well aware of weed’s contribution to the chaos, yet there are still millions of unaware Americans who automatically assume it’s the costlier drugs at the heart of the violence. Obviously heroin, meth, and cocaine are significant players in their own right, but by they’re nowhere near the bread and butter that pot is to the cartels. This is further illustrated by the fact that the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has consistently reported a drop in cocaine shipments from Mexico, and additional studies have shown that the use of the three aforementioned drugs is on the decline in the United States (meanwhile, marijuana consumption continues to rise).
Having worked extensively along the border as a special agent for the Department of Homeland Security (Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s office of Homeland Security Investigations, or ICE HSI, to be exact), I know firsthand the futility behind continuing to wage an all-out war against a plant, especially one that American consumers are demanding more than ever. Realistically, when it comes to the sheer volume of weed arriving daily from Mexico, the entire border from Brownsville to San Diego is like a full-time smuggling feeding frenzy, with DHS personnel practically cross-trained as factory workers in light of the constant pot seizures and undercover controlled deliveries. Lord knows my former brothers would be helping the U.S. more by making better use of their time, like dismantling human trafficking networks for example. These cells are active all across the country, and they’re responsible for numerous deaths—like the gruesome slaying recently of Carina Saunders outside of Oklahoma City. +
Jamie Haase, a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, served as a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The global war on drugs has been declared a “failure” and governments should “urgently” consider decriminalisation and legal regulation, according to a report by former world leaders and politicians.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose members include former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, has warned that major policy reforms are needed to help reduce the prison population and stop wasting millions of pounds.
The news comes as Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke plans to divert more people with drug problems away from prison and into treatment as part of a “rehabilitation revolution”.
Sir Richard, founder of the Virgin Group and co-founder of a group of global leaders said it was time to stop pretending the ‘war on drugs’ is working”.
He said instead, it has “filled our jails”, cost millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, “fuelled organised crime and caused thousands of deaths”.
“We need a new approach, one that takes the power out of the hands of organised crime and treats people with addiction problems like patients, not criminals,” he added.
A letter published by campaign group Release said nearly 80,000 people in the UK were convicted or cautioned for possessing an illegal drug in the past year and “most were young, black or poor”.
The commission called for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to help create “a truly coordinated and coherent global drug strategy that balances the need to stifle drug supply and fight organised crime with the need to provide health services, social care, and economic development to affected individuals and communities”.
I think most intelligent men and women could have told you this.